“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, No. 34&35 – THE DEVIL AND RICHARD DAWKINS
I’m not about to try to whip-up on famous atheist Richard Dawkins. In fact, having been introduced to him via a friend on the bulletin mailing list, I find I agree with him in some significant areas.
There is no doubt Dawkins is intelligent. The fact that he does not believe in a creator does not make him unique. But when it comes to religion, not just the Christian religion, Dawkins sees anything based on faith as an evil, because it can’t be proven. Therefore, he sees all “faiths” as sources of conflicts in the world. On that level he has some historical material.
His primary targets are the fundamentalists, those who insist on creationism as taught in Genesis. And while he says he will not debate such people, if you check out the videos of his debates, he seems to enjoy debating those who are either fundamentalists or trying to protect an ecclesiastical/organizational position.
Critics like Dawkins are not theologians in the sense of Biblical interpretation. The fundamentalist reads the Bible and says “It means what it says and says what it means” while often having no idea what it really says or means. Therefore, critics can take the Bible and go to the Old Testament and point out what it would be like if everyone lived in the same fashion as those long ago. They can say something like, “If we kept God’s word we’d have to do this or that.” In other words they allow for no developmental, continuing, expanding, understanding of God. That is to me, unfair as well as sloppy scholarism.
Limiting the teaching of the Bible to a historical period and cultural understanding would be like taking an ancient medical book and saying it was wrong because if we treated patients as they did then, we would be killing them rather than helping them, which would be true in some cases. But, to say they were somehow stupid because they had not yet reached the understanding of modern medicine as do we, is faulty thinking.
What if we took the maps of early explorers and said they had no place in modern geography because they were not correct by modern standards. Without the original there could be nothing on which to improve. This is true in every field of science and study. Why would it not also be true in relationship to our understanding of God and the universe around us? Should we throw away the truths of the Bible because the ones who wrote it thought the earth was flat, or that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun and moon actually rise and set?
Think about the Declaration of Independence. Should we disparage it because it said that all men are created equal and yet with the cultural understanding of the time they did not mean the Native Americans or the African slaves of this country?
There are those who say the second amendment grants them the right to have any type, and as many weapons as they want, while others say it was limited to an armed militia. Should the truths of the Constitution be rejected because those who formed it had no idea of modern weapons? Also, it has had to be amended due to a greater understanding of its original purpose. Does that make it invalid?
Likewise, it is not only unfair but shows ignorance of the whole Bible to pick out some parts and neglect others. For example, in the law of Moses a man who committed adultery was to be stoned, and yet David is not stoned after adultery with Bathsheba. David’s son Amnon rapes his half sister and is not stoned. (II Samuel 13:1ff.) In fact, Tamar tells Amnon in vs. 13 that if he asks David he will grant her to be Amnon’s wife. Marrying a half sister was against the law of Moses.
In Exodus 6:20 Amram marries his aunt. Abraham marries his half sister, and Isaac is among those who marry cousins. And in Isaiah 56 eunuchs would be welcomed into the new Messianic kingdom.
What does all this mean? It means that rather than just asking what the Bible says, we need to ask why the Bible says it, and under what time (culture) and circumstances it was said. A close look at the Bible shows us that the perception of God and what God wanted changed as the people moved more and more through Biblical history and human development. So when a critic points out what we have to believe if we believe the Bible, and does not take that into account, they are showing their ignorance of the fluidity of Biblical truth. And as I said before, they would not judge any other “ology” by that standard.
The fact that a father could sell his daughter, (Ex. 21:7) men could keep virgins captured in war, (Num. 31:18) commit rape and then buy the woman from her father, (Deut. 22:28,29) as well as the other treatment of women which can be found in the Bible, only shows the cultural understanding at that time. It does not set in stone that understanding for all time, as the Bible clearly teaches as it develops.
A critic might point to Hitler, who marched his troops to “God Save The Fatherland” as evidence of the danger of religion. Six million plus is a staggering number of lives. But the estimate of those Stalin (an atheist) killed is said to be about twenty million. Evil is evil.
I also find it interesting that the critics do not read from the prophets, where the moral and ethical standards of justice, fairness, greed, the rich cheating their workers, and political wickedness are so clear and contemporary they are too hot to handle and are politically dangerous even today.
As I look back, I find those notables like Ghandi, Mandela and Martin Luther King, just to name a few throughout history who believed, (had faith) contributed to the well-being, equality and justice of humanity, because of their faith in a higher power. Does that mean no atheist did the same? No. But I’d like to see a side-by-side list throughout history, wouldn’t you?
CONCERNS: Rich Crites sister has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He and Connie are going to see her soon and Rich will attend his 50th High School reunion. Mary Smith’s improvement is slow but steady. Connie Crite’s brother, as well as Leena Bolin’s brother are critical. Erma Williams father had a second knee surgery. She has gone to see him. Others dealing with cancer or in recovery are, Hannah, a classmate of Garrett Lee Williams, Regan, the ten year old who is critically ill, (his grandfather, Richard is recovering from an accident in California) friends and relatives of the Beach’s, Stephanie Rigney and Marge Greenwood; Deena McRoy, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter and Sharon, a friend of Del Bolin. A friend of Martha Foy, Gil Richardson, has muscular dystrophy. Remember Gary Overstreet, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 16-21
Monday: Psalm 119:57-72
Tuesday: Matthew 12:30-50
Wednesday: James 1:19-27
Thursday: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Friday: Romans 6:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 113:1-9
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 23-28
Monday: Job 38:1-18
Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-5
Wednesday: Psalm 37:1-17
Thursday: Luke 18:35-19:10
Friday: John 18:1-14
Saturday: Hebrews 13:1-21
Keith Wagner and Wayne Flora are away through Wednesday attending the Abilene Christian University Lectures. Martha Albert will also be there and will be visiting family in Texas. Keith and Wayne will return on Thursday.
Today Mike Branch will be presenting the sermon in Keith’s absence.
Today is Super Sunday. The forecast looks like a beautiful day. Plan to stay and enjoy the fellowship meal. The leftover meat from the Bar B Que was frozen and will be on the table today. Be first in line if you missed it.
As you can see, the tree nearest the parking lot entrance is dead. The weight of the limbs has caused them to start falling, even in calm weather. The city has been notified about the danger to cars on Brandon Ave. If you have parked under that tree it would be a good idea not to until it is trimmed or cut all the way down. The last limb would have destroyed a car.
THE SECURITY LIGHTS
If you come in by the handicapped entrance you will notice the security lights have been installed. They are motion activated. We are still looking at security cameras that will best fill our needs and offer the ability to see the surroundings from an offsite location.
With your help eight boxes filled with various kinds of breakfast food has been sent to Chris Phlegar’s unit in Afghanistan. What is needed is small assorted boxes of various kinds of cereal. Granola bars, breakfast bars, pop tarts, instant grits, instant oatmeal, and Little Debby’s. (No chocolate) Wayne and Susan will be in Oregon for a few weeks and when they get back they will tell us of some other ways we can help these men and women as they prepare to leave that war zone.
This will be the last Sunday to upgrade the email list. Remember, if you want the bulletin via email and you have not received it that way, let it be known by placing it on the list on the foyer table.